Larry Sanders missed team bus before Cavs cut him

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

They lost their final four regular-season games - one to an Atlanta team resting all its starters - and surrendered the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference to Boston.

"Last year was half a season for me, but it just felt like two years".

While the Cleveland Cavaliers have had an up-and-down season, LeBron James has had a great season individually.

Thompson played the game with a brace on his thumb that he will have to wear in the playoffs. Cavs F Richard Jefferson nailed a 3-pointer with 10:57 left in the second quarter, breaking a 46:08 personal scoreless streak.

"We've got to go out there and play hard on both sides of the ball", forward Kevin Love said.

The Raptors, too, chose to keep legs fresh as All-Star forward DeMar DeRozan (flu-like symptoms) and Serge Ibaka watched.

Over and over, Cavaliers players have bemoaned the lack of energy and defensive execution displayed in the past several games, but Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said now is the time for his team to "put up or shut up".

Norman Powell led all scorers with 25 points, and the Raptors pounded the Cavs 98-83 in the final game of the regular season. He backpedaled on defense and raised his arms in triumph as his teammates celebrated as if he had just hit a game-winner.

For the Cavs, it's on to that wonderful time of the year we call the National Basketball Association playoffs as Cleveland looks to defend its 2015-16 championship title.

But the club's inconsistency and an outside belief they are vulnerable and can get knocked out before the Finals, Lue remains confident his team will step up when it matters most. That said, with a 7'9 wingspan and a big frame, you don't always need to be the springiest guy on the court, and Tavares showed what he might be able to bring to the team in limited time. "Every time he sees us he plays well, so we got to do a good job of being really locked into him, knowing where he's at, at all times and try to take him out of the series".

"They're the champs for a reason", Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry said Wednesday night after Toronto beat Cleveland.

Edy Tavares, fresh off beating these same Cavs' D-League affiliate in the playoffs for the Raptors 905, made his Cavs debut. Vince Carter averaged 27.6 in 2000-2001.

Matching each other dunk for dunk and jumper for jumper, George scored 43 points with nine rebounds and nine assists, while James scored 41 with 16 rebounds and 11 assists in Cleveland's 135-130 win in double overtime on April 2.

Last year's trip to the NBA Finals and remarkable comeback down 3-1 to the Golden State Warriors seems to prove that was indeed the case in 2016. Toronto finished 23-18 on the road, matching Cleveland's away mark. The 36-year-old Jones will take the spot on Cleveland's roster vacated by DeAndre Liggins, who was waived Sunday.